In the few minutes before sleeping each night, I am reading Elizabeth and Leicester by Sarah Gristwood.
A colleague who moves in far more academic circles than I, informed me last week that new letters have been discovered from Elizabeth to Robert Dudley, which shed a revealing light on their relationship.
This frustrated me, because now I don’t know whether or not to continue reading the Sarah Gristwood book; however, it also reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago.
I met this particular friend in the City Inn for a drink early one evening. He had just finished lunch with one of the more distinguished and notable Peers of the realm.
I remember commenting that it must have been a long lunch, when he recounted the most enthralling story.
The name of the Peer he had lunched with is synonymous with the reign of Elizabeth I. In fact, this Peer’s direct descendant was one of the key, and more familiar, players in Elizabeth’s court.
Anyway, I was amazed as my friend told me how he had been taken into the cellars after lunch, and shown box upon box of documents, all dating back to Elizabeth's reign; and, had been handed down through the generations, perfect and intact.
I had forgotten this conversation, until last week. I have no idea if this is where the new letters have originated from, if not, there are more to be discovered!
You can imagine how exciting the news of new letters is, for those of us who are fascinated by a woman, who was supposedly no man’s Elizabeth.
Having arrived home late on Saturday night, I flicked through Sky movies on the bedroom TV and caught Elizabeth halfway through, just as Dudley pleaded with an emotionally shut down Elizabeth, through distraught tears, “ is nothing of our love to endure?”
Well, it appears that after all this time something may.
Secrets held in ink on parchment are to be revealed, and the life of a woman so contained and private is to be known to us.
Rather than being locked within the dark shadows of a cellar, the knowledge of their true feelings will cascade down through further generations, and see the light of day.
The work of a quill, the outpourings of emotion and a desire to hold onto, and re-read intimate words, means that even though so much time has passed, Dudley can dry his tears; something of their love may have indeed endured.
And as a result, we may know a little more not only of the woman and her heart, but of what motivated, the apparently driven, and single minded Queen who governed England so well and for so long.